Our unofficial gay holiday (Halloween)
In light of the recent discussion circulating around news articles and social media on Zachary Quinto and his comment in an interview where Zachary is quoted as saying: there is a tremendous' complacency towards HIV awareness in the LGBT community. To me it seems very interesting to read, and try to understand why people are offended. I get that HIV activism has not completely been silenced, and that many men and woman, old and young still pursue HIV/AIDS awareness, and more. I would like to think I am one of them. But it is hard for me to deny that Zachary Quinto is completely wrong. I wonder if so many have found his comment offensive because it is true?
Our biggest problem from the beginning was needles, hypodermic needles. It was a biohazard, it was scary, and in it’s own way an epidemic.
The abandoned lot was a wasteland that spoke of addiction, government healthcare, but mainly of HIV/AIDS. The needles were/are a byproduct of combating the AIDS epidemic; they are the aftermath of saving lives. It was a moment for me where an issue I had only known to fear as a sort of boogie monster manifested itself as a reality. The accumulation of needles forced me to see something that has always been in my face. It made me wonder where had the culture that formerly addressed this issue gone? Had it moved? Had the fear of something still very real become sedated by it’s own presence?
Now moving on with the second stage of my project, I found Zachary Quinto’s words to sadly become even more real.
It was the day after our unofficial gay holiday (Halloween) and I lay around the house with my father. All morning I held some sort of uneasiness that I thought was just lasts night’s hangover, maybe the surrealism of my move and leap in my life recently across the country finally starting to set in? I moved from San Francisco to travel my new project to its next stop, Kansas City in the heartland of America. As I took a minute to walk outside and reflect, it hit me. Sadness. Not sadness for myself from being overwhelmed because of all the changes and new challenges I am facing… sadness because I realized that last night I have come to see that HIV/Aids might be bigger and more of an issue here, in the Midwest then many may see.
I made this move for many reasons, personal and beyond, but one reason was in hopes to make a difference with this project. Maybe I was secretly betting against myself in the hopes I would be wrong, and I would find this project and my work around HIV/AIDS was not as needed or relevant as I thought. The little glimpse I have thus far experienced here in Kansas City has spookily shown signs that HIV/AIDS is not here. That is true, its not here in peoples minds as a reality. Which, even more than before leaves me with heaviness. I have a fear that HIV/AIDS might be more invasive here than in an epicenter like San Francisco. Perhaps this is because of the areas collective perceived understanding around the disease. I don’t know, and I still hope I am wrong.
Last night I ended up leaving a man’s house not quite abruptly, but in the middle of hooking up with him, which I am, but should not be, proud of myself, I left his apartment because he would not have sex unless it was bareback, he refused even after I told him I was uncomfortable with it, but still he would not let it alone. “ I don’t want to fuck you bare” I said “Why” he responded “Should I list the reasons”? I said back in a snarky tone. He made me feel as if I was being silly, letting him down, the crazy one in the room. I may be crazy and I am not an angel, but I am proud because I have learned to respect myself and I not only said no. I stood up and said what was right for me at the time and left this man’s house even if I did not want to walk out early in the cold morning. I had the strength to set aside my eminent satisfaction, something that I work hard to control. I was very inebriated, I was excited, horny, a bit lonely but no condom means no. Yes, there have been times before I have not made this decision and some of those times I have been ok with it, and sometimes after the fact I was not. I know I am the only one who has to bear that choice in the end. Someone no matter how handsome, endowed, or charming, who does not respect themselves cannot offer you respect in return.
This is hard for any one to understand and learn, this is extremely hard for some gay men to learn, for many in our collective community we did not easily come to this space of identity of “gay” and the struggle has not allowed us the tools in our psyche for this sort of self respect. To easily, truly, and internally understand this and then act upon it is a behavior and a control which is opposite from the hedonistic out life style many gay men, including myself, embrace. I can’t say there is a right or wrong here, or that I will also make a “right” decision every time. But last night it was not a question, it was not a debate for me. Please hear that I am not pointing fingers at any one who decides different degrees of behavior for their own body. But to try and shame and or embarrass a partner during sex because they ask to use protection and then put up a wall against any discussion on the subject is not right, it angered and sadden me at the same time.
All I know is that strange feeling I carried around today was brought on because I found myself “standing across a river” looking at my brethren. I could see myself in his image; I could so clearly see the lack of respect he harbored for himself with his cavalier use of his precious body.
This was not the first time, nor will it be the last time I will stand at this cross road. It is even sadder still that it has in my short time here in the Midwest that I have found too many young gay men standing on the side of what I personally feel is one of ignorance. It hurts me to glimpse the hurt they must carry, even if it is subconscious. It seems so blatant in their actions, because it is a hurt I know well. Whether we like it or not, being gay at some point even under that “masc” attitude, we all have some form of scars from those damned red ruby slippers.
I will leave you with what I was left with as I walked out of that apartment in the wee hours of the early morning. As I stood in the doorway clicking my heals in hopes to get home he recited this rime…
“In the days of old, when knights were bold and condoms weren’t invented, He wrapped a sock around his cock and babies were prevented”
Here are a few other HIV related articles over the past few weeks that are worth checking out
Viral Women - A Women's Rights News
I FOUND OUT I HAD HIV THROUGH A TEXT MESSAGE
Queerty - Free of agenda. Except that gay one
ARE YOUNG GAY MEN RELYING TOO MUCH ON MONOGAMY AS PROTECTION FROM HIV
WAIT TRUVADA ISN'T THE ONLY PrEP?